Houston Dining

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Houston Dining
If Houston's roster of award-winning chefs made up an NFL team, they'd win the Super Bowl every year. Maybe that metaphor's a bit of a stretch, but listen up: The food here is good. From traditional Texas barbecue to modern Spanish cuisine, the menus in Houston represent a culinary utopia.
By Kristin Finan, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by age fotostock
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    Meat Lover's Paradise
    Texans take their barbecue very seriously, and with good reason. You'll find mouthwatering meat, including brisket, pulled pork, and sausage, across the Lone Star State. A shining example of barbecue done right is Killen's Barbecue, located about 30 minutes outside of Houston in Pearland. Yes, you may have to stand in line, and yes, it's worth it. Other excellent barbecue can be found at Gatlin's on Ella Boulevard, Pinkerton's Barbecue off Airline Drive, and CorkScrew BBQ in Spring.
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    Mexican and Tex-Mex Traditions
    You can eat Tex-Mex on virtually every block in Houston, but for a taste of how this uniquely American cuisine should be done, stop by the Original Ninfa's on Navigation for tacos al carbon and a margarita on the patio. Or, if you're craving traditional Mexican fare, don't miss Hugo's, where James Beard Award winner Hugo Ortega serves upscale regional favorites and a popular Sunday brunch.
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    Local Seafood
    Houston is only 60 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, so you won't need to look hard for fresh seafood. Beloved and lauded chef Mark Holley offers elevated and interesting fish and shellfish dishes that Houstonians crave—while also paying tribute to his family roots—at Holley's Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar. Reef, located in a stylishly renovated auto showroom and led by chef Bryan Caswell, is another place to try, with a menu that features sustainable, locally sourced fish and seafood options and imaginative sides. And Crawfish & Noodles takes advantage of the region's crawfish harvest to serve up delicious Asian fare with locally sourced ingredients.
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    Family Dining
    What could be more kid-friendly than a burger topped with macaroni and cheese? Lankford Grocery is a local favorite for juicy burgers in a laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere. The Breakfast Klub is another Houston classic with lots of kid-friendly fare such as pancakes, waffles, and eggs. The restaurant even hosts activities for kids and their families on the first Saturday of every month. And don't forget dessert—the Chocolate Bar's mouthwatering homemade treats, from cake to ice cream to cookies, are the perfect way to end the day.
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    International Cuisine
    Houston is an international city with residents from across the globe, so it stands to reason that such diversity would be reflected in its food. For a twist on your typical Indian takeout, head to Pondicheri, where chef Anita Jaisinghani offers her unique spin on the street foods of India. Craving a bite of Barcelona? Don't miss BCN Taste & Tradition, where chef Luis Roger dishes out modern Spanish cuisine that will make your mouth water and mind wander.
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    Chinatown
    Houston's Chinatown, located on the strip-mall-streaked part of Bellaire Boulevard, is brimming with authentic food venues. One to try is Crawfish & Noodles, which turns out spicy mudbugs served piping hot as well as blue crab and snow crab. Arco Seafood serves a full range of traditional Chinese dishes, and the Banana Leaf features authentic Malaysian fare.
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    Inventive Fusion
    There's no shortage of creativity in Houston's food scene, and the city's unconventional spirit is perfectly embodied by Chris Shepherd's One Fifth Houston, which will feature five different restaurant concepts, ranging from a steakhouse to a seafood joint, over a span of five years. For a twist on Chinese takeout, try the Rice Box; and if you want to see the waffle elevated to the next level, don't miss the Waffle Bus.